10 common office hazards – and how to reduce their risks
Office environments are generally considered low-risk workplaces, but this doesn’t mean you should neglect your health and safety duties.
Offices still contain health and safety hazards which need to be monitored and controlled.
Just the same as any workplace, offices need to have hazards identified and risk assessments carried out in order to implement control measures to reduce the likelihood of a workplace incident occurring.
Look for these common hazards in your office:
- poor or inadequate lighting;
- ergonomic hazards;
- extremes of temperature;
- manual handling hazards;
- slip, trip and fall hazards;
- electrical hazards (e.g. appliances, power sockets, etc.);
- contagious illnesses spread by sick workers;
- fire hazards;
- chemical hazards (e.g. cleaning products); and
- stress hazards.
Stress hazards can be difficult to identify – make sure you take the proper action to identify and remove stress hazards for your workers. Click here for more information on how to reduce stress hazards in your workplace.
What to do once you have identified a hazard in your office
All health and safety hazards, once identified, need to be risk assessed and controlled. To do this you need to determine the likelihood of the risks causing serious injury and, based on the assessment, put control measures in place to reduce or eliminate the risks.
After implementing control measures, it’s essential that you monitor and review them to ensure they remain effective.
Remember, other hazards may also exist for office workers while they are outside the workplace, including people working from home and workers who attend work-related social functions. Although liability can be a grey area, you still have an obligation to manage the health and safety of workers in these scenarios. As long as the connection can be made between employment and an incident, you may be liable and, therefore, you need to manage the risks.
9 ways to reduce the risk of spreading illness and disease
For example, take the following precautions to reduce the risk of illness spreading throughout your office:
- put clear policies in place regarding personal hygiene and cleanliness in the workplace, including properly washing hands;
- keep all areas of the office clean;
- ensure the fridge and kitchen cupboards are cleaned out frequently and dispose of any items that have passed their used-by date;
- disinfect shared work items between uses;
- send home any worker who is obviously unwell;
- provide flu vaccinations to workers;
- provide health checks to workers;
- if necessary, create procedures to deal with employees returning from zones in the world with high disease risks; and
- encourage workers to take personal leave if they feel unwell, particularly if they have flu-like symptoms.